The third base position is often referred to as the “hot corner” because of the sizzling line drives and quick reflexes needed to man the position. Our 2016 Fantasy Breakout Third Basemen consist of hitters that hit sizzling line drives with quick bat speed! It’s almost the same thing!
The third base position is usually stocked with big bats that also happen to be deft in the field – and that’s really no different than this year’s group.
While it’s true, we know longer get to draft Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion or even Ryan Zimmerman from this group, we do find big bats like Josh Donaldson and Todd Frazier at the “hot corner.”
We also have some decent youth at the position, led by returning NL Rookie of the year Kris Bryant and 35/20 guy, Manny Machado. (Unfortunately, one of those guys is listed among my expected 2016 Fantasy Busts for this position.)
Our 2016 Fantasy Breakout Third Basemen actually discusses a pair of those young bats making noise at this position.
Breakout Third Basemen
Remember that when we talk about “breakout” players, there’s a big distinction between them and “sleepers.” Think of it this way – a “sleeper” is a late-round (or undrafted) Fantasy player that plays well enough this year to become a mid-round pick next season. A “breakout” is a mid-round player this year that plays well enough to become an early rounder next season.
With that said, if you’re looking for Third Base Sleepers, check out Ryan Hallam’s fantastic article that points out three great sleepers at third base, including Nick Castellanos. He even digs deeper to share two deep-league sleepers for AL- and NL-only leagues.
Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 1, 2016
The Phillies were one of the worst teams in the majors last season, and offensively, they scored the fourth-fewest runs among all 30 teams. Their .249 team batting average, but their team OPS of .684 was only better than the Braves (.674).
Franco, one of their best prospects for a couple years, didn’t disappoint once he arrived (just after the free-agent service time deadline in mid-May). Unfortunately, he broke his wrist in August, which clipped most of the end of his season, too. More on that in a second – let’s first talk about his talent as a hitter.
The only Phillies hitter to post more RBIs than Franco (50) last season was Ryan Howard (77) – even though the free-swinging veteran did it in about 50-percent more at-bats. And Andres Blanco (.863) is the only teammate with a higher OPS than Franco (.840). He’ll bat in the third spot in the Phillies’ anemic offense, but that’s still a valuable spot for Fantasy players.
For Head-to-Head owners, Franco actually posted better per-game totals than Kris Bryant, which I learned from CBSSports.com. In an experts league mock draft I’m in over at MLB.com, Fantasy411 writer Zach Steinhorn chose Franco near the beginning of the 10th round.
Jung-Ho Kang, SS/3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Another great third base breakout candidate – that also happens to be a sophomore playing in Pennsylvania – is Kang. The Korean came into the league with reportedly good power and he didn’t disappoint. Plus, add to that his multi-position eligibility, allowing you to play him at five spots (SS, 3B, CI, MI and DH) in your lineup, and now you’re looking at a very useful hitter.
Kang had surgery to repair a fractured fibia and torn meniscus in his knee, but he should be ready to play in the first month of the season. But that news is what’s keeping his draft value pushed down to about 160 (Round 14 in 12-team mixed leagues), which makes him a bargain as a shortstop or even a corner infielder at that point.
FanGraph.com’s Paul Sporer chose Kang as his starting third baseman in Round 13 in the mock draft I mentioned earlier.
‘The health aside, I trust the skills. The pop was there as he hit at a 20-HR pace. I’m not sure how many steals we’ll see at 5-for-9 success rate, especially because he was only a 65% base-stealer in the KBO, but even a few bags will help with the pop and AVG.”– Sporer
As I went through my own personal 2016 Third Base rankings, I have Franco just two spots ahead of Kang, sandwiched around Mets veteran David Wright.
I really wanted to get Miguel Sano on this list as a breakout candidate, but Twins manager Paul Molitor doesn’t expect the youngster to see much time at third base this season. That means his DH-only eligibility could stick all season.
When looking for 2016 Fantasy Breakout Third Basemen, I look toward young men with upside and some relatively proven skills – Franco and Kang fill those requirements nicely.
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